Chanting slogans against “normalization” with Israel, the vandals smashed windows and tried to storm the conference hall before dozens of Palestinian Authority policemen pushed them back.
The meeting, which was held under the motto “Ordinary People Make Peace,” was organized by a group called Israeli- Palestinian Public Negotiating Congress in Ramallah & Jerusalem.
The group is co-chaired by Dr. Sapir Handelman, an Israeli who received the Peter Becker Award in Peace and Conflict Studies, and Ibrahim Enbawi, a prominent Palestinian figure from Jerusalem.
Thursday’s meeting was part of a two-day seminar on solutions to the conflict. The second meeting is expected to place in east Jerusalem on Friday.
The Palestinian and Israeli delegations consist of 15 members each. They include ex-IDF officers, Palestinian security commanders, Israeli settlers, Palestinian ex-prisoners, academics, businessmen and journalists.
Palestinian activists who learned about the meeting at City Inn Hotel hanged a banner at the entrance to the hotel reading, “Normalization is Treason.”
The activists protested against the presence of Israelis in the city, banging on the main gate and chanting, “Israelis out!” Others chanted, “No to negotiations, no to normalization, this homeland is not for sale” and “Our people want RPG [rocket-propelled grenades], not security coordination.”
A Palestinian journalist expressed outrage over the hanging of an Israeli flag next to a Palestinian flag inside the conference hall.
One of the protesters condemned the Palestinian participants.
“Instead of caring about our people in the refugee camps, they are sitting here with Israelis who are killing our people every day,” he said. “It’s disgraceful that these people and our Palestinian Authority are continuing to negotiate with Israelis, begging them to give us something.”
The activist denounced the PA police for refusing to allow him and his friends to enter the conference hall to protest against the meeting.
Another activist said he and his friends came to the hotel to tell the Israelis to leave immediately. “This is not where Israelis should be,” he said. “They should be pursued before international courts for war crimes.”